The Lebanese economy continues to suffer from the high trade deficit that is the main cause behind the current account deficit. In fact, Lebanon’s trade deficit registered an increase of 1.73% year-on-year (y-o-y) to reach $17.03B by the end of 2018. In details, the value of imports rose by an annual 2.03%to $19.98B. Also, the value of exports rose by 3.83% to stand at $2.95B by the end of the year. As for the month of December alone, total Deficit dropped by 4.34% and stood at $1.32B.
2018’s most imported product was “Mineral products” (grasping 20.86% of the total value of imports), followed by 11.62% for machinery and electrical instruments and 11.07% for products of the chemical and allied industries.
By end of 2018, the value of imported mineral products dropped by 3.08% to $4.17B. This can be linked to the decrease in their imported volume by 23.64% from 10.46B tons in 2017 to 7.98B tons in 2018.
In addition, the value of machinery and electrical instruments climbed from $1.93B in 2017 to $2.32B in 2018. The value of the chemical and allied industries rose by 3.63% to $2.21B when compared to the same period last year.
In 2018, Lebanon had mainly imported goods from China which grasped 10.25% of total imports, followed by Greece, Italy, Germany, and Turkey with respective shares of 8.55%, 7.96%, 5.85% and 4.75% of the total value of imported goods.
As for exports, the top exported products were “pearls precious stones and metals” acquiring a share of 21.95% of the total, followed by “base metal and articles of base metal” and “products of the chemical or allied industries” with respective shares of 12.88% and 12.28 %.
In details, “the value of Pearls, precious stones and metals” surged by 10.59% in 2018 to stand at $648M, compared to $586M in 2017. In turn, the value of base metals and articles of base metal rose by 11.75% to $380.26M, and the value of products of the chemical or allied industries also registered a yearly increase of 13.30% to $362.67M.
As for the top destinations in terms of exports, UAE grasped the first place with 15.49%, followed by Saudi Arabia, Syria, South Africa, and Iraq with 7.19%, 6.96%, 5.89% and 4.99% respectively.
Trade Deficit by December ($B)
Source: Lebanese Customs